As director of sustainability for a leading UK construction and regeneration company, I need to understand the priorities of my stakeholders and what they expect from a responsible business. Priorities and expectations frequently change and, at Morgan Sindall Group, we carry out regular research to ensure we keep our approach in synch with our stakeholders.
Recently, we surveyed 1,900 individuals from across our business, suppliers and customers about which issues are material to them. The research showed that, since we undertook the last survey, the social aspects of sustainability have quickly moved up the agenda as material issues. When we last asked in 2013, 28% of material issues were classed as ‘social’. In 2015, this increased to 44%, meaning that our greatest number of material issues is now in the area of social sustainability.
We operate in communities across the country, witnessing first-hand the need for local employment, economic stimulus and regeneration. Our responsible business approach is based on five commitments that we deliver through our day-to-day business activities. We monitor our progress against the commitments, allowing us to see how our approach is having a positive impact on communities.
For example, our ongoing commitment to local spend ensures that the economic value of our work creates social value for the communities in which we operate. Our regeneration projects have a major impact, such as the Raffles Estate in Carlisle, where overall crime dropped by 13%, criminal damage halved and car theft drop by 70% since the start of the project.
Creating jobs is another important way we can contribute. Over 8% of the people working for us are new entrant trainees, apprentices, people on graduate or undergraduate development programmes, well above the industry ambition of 5%.
The Wirral Waters development is a prime example of where we, working with our clients, are changing lives as well as environments. We used 90% local labour to build the Wirral Met College; a new campus that will be a centre of excellence for construction skills. In turn, the college will provide the local skills needed to regenerate the disused Wirral docks in Birkenhead, building the Wirral Waters vision that will create 20,000 jobs for the Liverpool City region.
We also use industry benchmarks, such as the Considerate Constructors Scheme (CCS), to establish our responsible business approach on a site by site basis. Each CCS site is monitored to check how we engage with and respect the local community; care for the workforce; care about the site’s appearance; protect the safety of people and protect the environment. For the third year running, we’ve broken our previous record, reaching a milestone of 72 CCS National Site Awards in 2016.
I’m incredibly excited and positive about the role that we, as a Group, can play in creating better futures and environments for the communities where we work. I believe that it is only when sustainability is truly integrated – with the environmental, social and economic elements in balance – that we can all flourish.